To help reduce cancer deaths, the ACS recommends a wide range of cancer screenings to promote early detection. Here's what you need to know.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that 1.9 million people will be diagnosed with cancer in 2021 — and more than 608,570 will die. To help reduce cancer deaths, the ACS recommends a wide range of cancer screenings to promote early detection. While some screenings are specifically for men or women, others are for everyone. Here are three types of screening that everyone should consider.

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Skin Cancer Screening

What should people know about skin cancer?

Skin cancer is the growth of abnormal cells in the epidermis, which is your outer layer of skin. It is by far the most common of all cancers, says the ACS.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer by age 70. That’s why it’s important to avoid the two main causes — the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays and UV tanning machines.

What does skin cancer screening look like?

People can check for skin cancer by carefully examining themselves from head to toe in a well-lit room. While the ACS doesn’t say how often to do a skin cancer self-exam, many doctors recommend checking monthly. That’s because early detection is the best way to ensure that any skin cancer can be treated successfully.

The ACS recommends having suspicious moles looked at if you spot them during a self-exam.

In addition, the Skin Care Foundation recommends seeing a dermatologist once a year for a full-body exam. During the exam, your doctor will check your skin from head (yes, your scalp) to toes (and even between them). They will note any spots they want to monitor over time. If they are concerned about anything, they will do a quick biopsy. The entire exam takes roughly 20 minutes. While the Skin Cancer Foundation doesn’t specify a starting age, you can ask your doctor during your annual physical.

Colorectal Cancer Screening

What should people know about colorectal cancer?

Colorectal cancer begins in the colon or rectum, parts of the large intestine. According to the American Cancer Society, it is the third most common cancer in both men and women, other than skin cancers.

What does colorectal cancer screening look like?

There are two ways to check for colorectal cancer. A stool-based test checks the stool for signs of cancer. A colonoscopy is a visual check that looks at the colon and rectum for abnormalities. A doctor inserts a colonoscope through the anus and into the rectum and colon. This instrument is a flexible tube about as wide as a finger outfitted with a light and small video camera.

When should people screen for colorectal cancer?

Adults ages 45 to 75 should be screened for colorectal cancer, though the end age depends on the individual, their health, and the doctor. Here are the recommended screenings:

  • Stool test. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you do the stool test every year. If the results seem suspicious, your doctor can follow up with a colonoscopy.
  • Colonoscopy. The CDC recommends a colonoscopy every 10 years, more often if you have an increased risk of colorectal cancer. Your doctor can help determine the appropriate timing.

Lung Cancer Screening

What should people know about lung cancer?

Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in both men and women, excluding skin cancer, according to the ACS. In men, prostate cancer is more common. Breast cancer is more common in women. Because of its high fatality rate, colon cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women.

When should people screen for lung cancer?

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends annual screening for those who are at a higher risk of getting lung cancer. The test is performed using a low-dose CAT scan (LDTC) or CT scan. During this scan, you lie on a table while the machine takes detailed images of your lungs. High-risk groups include:

  • Individuals ages 55 to 80 who have a history of heavy smoking. Heavy smoking is a history of 30 pack years (an average of one pack of cigarettes per day for one year) or more.
  • People who currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years.

Taking charge of your health is vital. Managing cancer screenings through your lifetime is an important step.

Sources

Cancer Facts & Figures 2020, Cancer.org, accessed April 28, 2020, Link

Key Statistics for Melanoma Skin Cancer, Cancer.org, accessed April 28, 2020, Link

Skin Cancer 101, Skincancer.org, accessed April 28, 2020, Link

Annual Exams, Skincancer.org, accessed April 28, 2020, Link

How to Do a Skin Self-Exam, Cancer.org, accessed April 28, 2020, Link

Key Statistics for Colorectal Cancer, Cancer.org, accessed April 29, 2020, Link

Colorectal Cancer Screening Tests, CDC.gov, accessed April 29, 2020, Link

Key Statistics for Lung Cancer, Cancer.org, accessed April 29, 2020, Link

Who Should Be Screened for Lung Cancer? CDC.gov, Accessed April 29, 2020, Link

About UPMC Hillman Cancer Center

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